News & Commentary

September 30, 2014

The UAW announced that it has signed a letter of intent with two top German labor groups to jointly organize the Volkswagen AG assembly plant in Chattanooga. According to Reuters, the UAW seeks to obtain exclusive majority status and recognition of this by Volkswagen at the automaker’s sole U.S. plant. The letter outlining this agreement was signed on September 9th by representatives of the UAW; IG Metall, the powerful union that represents VW workers in Germany; and the Volkswagen global works council, which has blue- and white-collar members from the automaker’s plants worldwide. The Chattanooga plant remains Volkswagen’s only major factory without representation in the company’s global works council. The agreement comes after the UAW’s defeat last February, when workers at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee voted to not join the UAW in a very contested election, which we’ve covered extensively. In July, the union formed a member’s only union, UAW Local 42, to represent some workers through a members-only union, which we’ve also covered here.

While Air France may have ended its 14-day strike over the weekend, Lufthansa have resumed their strike according to Bloomberg. Pilots will not depart from Lufthansa’s main hub in Frankfurt today between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., reducing the total number of long-haul flights to 26, with 58 reported cancellations thus far. According to the Associated Press, the two sides are deadlocked on the airline’s financing of bridge compensation for pilots who choose to retire before their official retirement age. According to Lufthansa, the strikes have cost the company 100 million euros this year.

TIME reports that the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions has called for a strike Tuesday in support of the city’s growing pro-democracy protests. The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, the city’s largest teacher’s union, has also declared a strike in response to police’s forceful crackdown on demonstrators on Sunday. The forceful call for all workers to strike comes on the heels of a week of student protests in response to Beijing’s recent decision to implement restrictive elections for the position of Chief Executive, the highest office in Hong Kong, in 2017.

In California, Governor Jerry Brown decided on two pieces of labor legislation. The Governor signed Assembly Bill 1897, which will hold businesses with more than 25 employees liable if their subcontractors violate wage, workplace safety or workers’ compensation rules. According to the Sacramento Bee, the bill was a top priority of organized labor groups who hailed the legislation as a much-needed protection for temporary, subcontracted workers in the State. Business groups opposed the bill, with the California Chamber of Commerce deeming it a “job killer” and arguing that it would discourage further growth in the state. The Sacramento Bee also reports that Governor Brown has vetoed a farm labor bill that would have made it more difficult for agricultural employers to stall contracts that have been secured through mandatory mediation, disappointing farm labor groups who had supported the legislation.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that NBC-Universal owned cable network Bravo committed an ‘unfair labor practice’ when the network dismissed the editing crew of Bravo show Shahs of Sunset.  The editors had been on strike since September 10th in an effort to unionize and secure health and pension benefits. According to Variety, the 16 member editorial staff was subsequently dismissed on September 26th when Bravo took control of the production of the show away from Ryan Seacrest Productions to end the labor standoff.

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